If we are talking about some of the most famous Australian Landmarks, the name “Uluru” comes to mind very quickly. Wonder Why? Well…Think of a mammoth sandstone monolith that has been standing over the land for around 500 million years triumphantly facing the sky with its crest. Sounds interesting! right? Let’s learn some more interesting facts about Uluru–
1. What is Uluru?
The Uluru is a Sandstone Inselberg- An island mountain formed by rising from erosion flat low lands which are composed of Arkose rock which is a sedimentary sandstone that fills the Amadeus Basin.
It is situated in Central Australia (the heart of Australia) or we should say in Australia’s red center and lies to the south of the Northern Territory at a distance of about 208.1 miles southwest of Alice Springs.
2. Uluru is more than 500 Million Years Old!
Yes, Uluru rock mountain is standing firmly for more than 500 million years. Just think how many timelines this mountain has experienced including the era of Dinosaurs! The rock has experienced continuous climate changes throughout this period and hence molds itself accordingly.
3. The Mensuration and Geology of Uluru
Uluru originally sat under the sea at its bottom earlier but as of now Uluru’s highest peak is 863 meters above sea level and, surprisingly, it is more than twice the height of the Eiffel tower in Paris and also taller than New York’s Chrysler Building. Its prominence is around 348 meters and is 1.9 km wide. The measured perimeter of Uluru is 9.4 Kms.
Talking about its geology, Geologists refer that Uluru’s composition is mostly Arkose, A coarse-grained sandstone that constitutes Majorly Feldspar (50%) and quartz (25-35%), along with other rock fragments.
4. Say Uluru or the “Ayers Rock”, Both are the same
Explorer William Gosse-An English-born Australian surveyor who was the first non-aboriginal person to sight Uluru and named it the “Ayers Rock” in the honor of Sir Henry Ayers, who at that time served as the Chief Secretary of South Australia.
It became the first dual-named feature officially in the Northern Territory on 15 December 1993 under the Dual-naming policy but the name was restored to the aboriginal name “Uluru” again on 6 November 2002.
5. The Relation of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta– Also known as Mt Olga, is a group of rock formations consisting of 36 domes formed by Conglomerate sedimentary rock. It is about 3497 ft above sea level and covers an area of around 22 sq. Km.
Kata Tjuta and Uluru share common origins and are believed to be of the same age and share similar mineral composition. Both Uluru and Mount Olga are located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
6. Uluru: The Heritage of Australian Aboriginal People
Though the Australian government owns the land of Uluru on a 99-year lease, it originally belongs to the local Anangu people(aka the Pitjantjatjara people) as they are considered the traditional landowners of this mountain. In 1958, this Aboriginal reserve was excised to form Kata Tjuta national park.
Uluru is very significant to the Anangu culture and their people treat Uluru as sacred land. They believe that Uluru is formed during the earliest of times called the “Dreamtime“.
For the best, the Australian Government returned the ownership of Uluru to the local Pitjantjatjara people on 26 October 1985. The traditional aboriginal community now works together with Parks Australia for its management.
7. Climbing Uluru is prohibited
Before 26 October 2019, it was allowed to climb Uluru but after the land ownership returned to the local Anangu people, it became prohibited. Before its prohibition, a climbing chain was formed in 1964 for safe climbing for visitors.
Uluru holds a special value among the Anangu aboriginal people and the mountain has a great spiritual significance among these people as they treat Uluru as a sacred rock mountain.
This mountain served as a prayer site for their ancestors for a long time. They believe climbing Uluru is a bad omen as the climbers cross the traditional sacred “Dreamtime” track and those who climb the mountain after discrediting the saying face death!
Even though climbing Uluru was prohibited, the late Princess Diana of Wales along with Prince Charles climbed the mountain in 1983.
Though Climbing Uluru is prohibited, touching it is not, and except for some special sections of the rock guided by the Anangu, you can touch Uluru.
8. Uluru bags two UNESCO listings
It is one of the most obvious of all the listed Uluru facts that this massive monolith is largely notable. Uluru is one of the most important indigenous sites and highly recognizable natural landmarks of Australia.
Uluru was first listed as a natural World Heritage Site under UNESCO listings for its unique geology in the year 1987 which boosted its tourism greatly such that the annual no. of visitors to visit Uluru increased by 400000 in the year 2000.
In 1994, Uluru again bagged a UNESCO title as a cultural site due to its cultural significance to the Aboriginal people. No doubt, it is regarded as the most famous icon of Australia.
9. Vegetation and Wildlife of Uluru
Uluru has a surrounding that has rich flora as well as fauna. Many endemic and rare plant species of Australia are found here. These plants are culturally related to the local aboriginal people there and are used by them for their daily needs. Many trees such as the Central bloodwood and the mulga are used by them to make tools such as spearheads, arrows, etc.
Plants and trees have various traditional uses in the Anangu culture such as medicines, food, etc. The red sap of the Bloodwood plant has potent disinfectant and antitussive properties.
Talking about the Wildlife fauna near Uluru, it is evident that around 46 mammalian species were present near Uluru, which as of now is reduced to 21. The Kata Tjuta national park has a rich and wide variety of reptiles (73 known species).
Several animals such as the Woma python, Marsupial Mole, several frog and bat species, the great desert skink, red kangaroos, spinifex hopping mouse, and many other species are found in the national park. The Anangu community is allowed to do confined hunting of certain species such as lizards, bush turkey, red kangaroos, sand gonna, etc.
Several locally extinct animal species such as the black-flanked rock-wallaby, malleefowl, etc. are being supported for reintroduction while several others such as house mice, rabbits, dogs, camel, etc are introduced already.
10. Ayers Rock is actually Grey in Color
Yes, I know that in every picture of Uluru, it appears orange in color, and yes, I am not high! While the actual color of the rock is grey, the surface of the rock undergoes surface oxidation in which the iron of the rock is oxidized and appears orange in color. This is the reason for the rock’s burnt orange color.
11. Uluru and Kata Tjuta were first mapped by the Europeans
Though Archaeologists believe that the ancestral human population inhabited the land of Uluru thousands of years ago, European explorers such as Ernest Giles and William Gosse were the first to sight these mounts during their expedition in 1872 and they first mapped them with the help of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line. You know that William named Uluru the Ayers Rock, but also Giles termed Kata Tjuta as “Mount Olga”.
Some other quick facts about Uluru
- The Name “Uluru” has no specific meaning and is called so after a local family name of the senior traditional owners of this land.
- It is very fascinating to know that you can find Petroglyphs on several rocks of Uluru and the surrounding area also consists of waterholes, springs, rock caves, etc.
- Some photos of Uluru which were sensitive to the Anangu culture were removed by Google Australia from the Google Maps platform after accepting the request of Parks Australia.
- Due to detrimental environmental concerns, all the accommodation facilities for tourists were removed in the early 1970s and they were ordered to re-establish themselves out of the Uluru kata Tjuta national park.
- Do you know that an airport is also there near Uluru and it will take hardly 20 minutes to reach Uluru from this airport? The airport is also named the “Ayers Rock Airport“.
- Many parts of Australia including Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia were declared Aboriginal reserves during 1918-1921.
- Uluru looks the most beautiful either during sunrise or sunset when the orange rays from the sun just blend with the hill’s orange colour and make it heavenly and alluring and become the best time you should go to visit Uluru.
So, these were some of the most interesting and fun facts about Uluru we had in our basket to share with you. But just think, how much Nature does have in its basket for us! With Uluru, we are not just facing a rock mountain but experiencing nature’s masterpiece which saw so many different eras of human history.
With its rich cultural history and spirituality, its aboriginal Anangu people, its exquisite wildlife and vegetation, and of course, its immensity, this sandstone mountain will keep on standing like a King.
Well, we hope that you liked this article and wish that you stay with us like Uluru and the time. Pin down your thoughts in the comments section.